Miami Beach officials struggled to enforce a new 8 p.m. curfew on Saturday in the city’s South Beach entertainment district. Videos on social media from showed hundreds of people gathered outside after dark on Saturday and law enforcement dispersing crowds.
In trying to control crowds and taking a subject into custody, Miami Beach police said they used pepper balls. Two officers were also injured and taken to the hospital, according a departmental tweet. Police arrested at least a dozen people, according to CNN.
The city of Miami Beach, worried about the bigger than usual crowds filling the streets of South Beach and the threat of a resurgent coronavirus, declared a state of emergency and moved up its curfew on Saturday in an effort to shut down late-night spring break partying that it said had gotten out of control.
The emergency measures are in place for 72 hours but could be extended through the end of spring break on April 12.
SAVE executive director Tony Lima suspended after praising four accused gay-bashers
SAVE, South Florida’s longest serving organization dedicated to protecting LGBTQ people from discrimination, is facing awkward questions after it appears to have honored four men accused of taking part in a violent attack on two gay men.
I reported on the attack when it occurred in May 2018 after the Miami Beach Pride Parade.
Dmitry Logunov and Rene Chalarca were severely beaten by four men as they walked home after celebrating LGBT Pride. Surveillance cameras captured the violent beating and helped lead to the four attackers’ arrests.
The four men – Pablo Reinaldo Romo-Figueroa, 21, Luis Alonso-Piovet, 20, Juan Carlos Lopez, 21, and Adonis Diaz, 21 – were soon arrested and charged with felony aggravated battery and could face up to 30 years in prison.
The Miami Herald reported at the time that Miami-Dade prosecutors also filed enhanced aggravated battery with prejudice hate crime charges.
All four pleaded not guilty to the charges and the cases are still pending.
The four men accused of the 2018 Miami Beach gay-bashing
South Florida Gay News reports that at the SAVE Champions of Equality gala two weeks ago on June 14, SAVE executive director Tony Lima recognized the four men telling the crowd they were “wrongly accused.”
In a Facebook video, Lima told SAVE supporters that the father of Lopez, openly gay Juan Lopez, reached out to SAVE weeks ago to arrange for his son to volunteer with the non-profit.
The father has maintained that his son could not have committed the violent hate crime and that he “loves LGBT.”
Since that time, Lima says the men have each spent a few hours volunteering with SAVE participating in tasks like data entry for the group. Additionally, the four purchased their own tickets to the annual gala.
In response, WLRN reports that SAVE has “placed Executive Director Tony Lima on paid administrative leave” while the organization conducts a thorough review of the episode. Lima has served as executive director for SAVE since 2013.
Terry Gonzalez-Chaveza, a spokesperson for the Office of the State Attorney, has issued a statement flatly denying any mistake in charging the men. “The defendants in the case are not wrongly accused,” said Gonzalez-Chaveza, according to SFGN.
Russell Cormican, a Broward County criminal defense attorney, told SFGN that the men may have decided to volunteer in an attempt at personal penance, or perhaps to ‘put their best face forward’ hoping it might help their cases.
“We want to extend our deepest apologies first, to the victims, and equally, to the community for any insensitivity that may have been conveyed on our behalf by their attendance and mention at the gala,” read the statement.
“Our number one priority is to promote, protect and defend equality for all people, and it was never the intent of our organization to send a message that we in any way support, exonerate or justify the actions of these individuals.”
SAVE goes on to say the organization is “currently investigating this matter more thoroughly” and promises to provide “an update to our supporters and the community at large as soon as we gather all the appropriate information.”
Back in April, I reported on a violent anti-LGBT attack on a gay couple that occurred in Miami Beach shortly after the city’s Pride Parade.
The couple, Dmitry Logunov and Rene Chalarca, were violently beaten by four men.
In addition, Helmut Muller Estrada, a good samaritan who jumped in trying to stop the attack, was also severely injured requiring a hospital visit.
The couple said they were targeted because of their sexual orientation.
Which brings me to today’s news as The Miami Herald is reporting the four attackers have been charged with aggravated battery committed with prejudice. That means the police now officially view the attack as a hate crime.
If convicted each of the men – Pablo Reinaldo Romo-Figueroa, 21, Luis Alonso-Piovet, 20, Juan C. Lopez, 21, and Adonis Diaz, 21 – could face up to 30 years in prison.
The attackers turned themselves in shortly after social media folks spread video and surveillance photos far and wide.
Miami’s local ABC affiliate WSVN reports that the young men accused of a violent gay bashing after Miami Beach Pride this past Sunday have been released on bond after being arrested and charged with felony aggravated battery.
The four men — who police identified as 20-year-old Luis Alonso, 21-year-old Adonis Diaz, 21-year-old Juan C. Lopez and 21-year-old Pablo Reinaldo Romo — bonded out of jail on Wednesday. According to a Miami Beach Police spokesperson, all four men are facing aggravated battery felony charges.
Each of the four men were being held on $7,500 bond.
Surveillance cameras outside the Miami Beach bathroom, located near the beach along Ocean Drive and Sixth Street, recorded the assault on Sunday night.
Investigators said the subjects yelled an anti-gay slur in Spanish before the brawl ensued.
The State Attorney’s Office is still deciding whether the suspects will be charged with a hate crime.
You can find my original reports on the attack here and here.
Florida State Attorney Kathy Rundle promises all hate crime aspects of the attack will be evaluated throughly.
The four men arrested for violent post-Pride hate crime on Sunday
The Miami Beach Police Department announced this evening that the four men caught on surveillance video violently attacking two gay men after the city’s Pride Parade on Sunday afternoon have turned themselves in through an attorney.
The four men – identified as Juan C. Lopez, Adonis Diaz, Pablo Reinaldo Romo, all 21, and Luis M. Alonso, 20 – will likely face felony assault charges.
According to reports earlier today, the police were considering the attack a hate crime as at least one of the assailants used the Spanish word for “faggot” as punches were thrown.
The victims, Rene Chalarca and Dmitry Logunov, attempted to escape but were chased by the four attackers. A passerby who witnessed the attack tried to stop the men but was beaten and left bloody himself with several cuts and bruises needing medical attention.
Unfortunately, with the news of the arrests also comes disturbing reports about the anti-gay attitude of the Miami Beach Police officers who answered the call.
At one point a female officer told Logunov to “stop the drama, shut the fuck up.” Another officer repeated that to him a few minutes later. One of the officers also told him to “put ice on your face at home and you’ll be alright.”
“This is a terrible crime, as such, we are dedicating our full efforts to capturing the attackers. The Miami Beach Police Department prides itself on its inclusion of everyone,” a spokesperson for the Miami Beach Police Department said. “If anyone feels mistreated by any of our officers, they are encouraged to contact MBPD’s Internal Affairs unit so that any complaint can be addressed immediately.”
Miami Beach City Commissioner Michael Gongora also weighed in saying “I am disturbed by this and have sent to the Police Chief for investigation. Being Miami Beach’s first and only openly gay commissioner it’s important to me that our community be safe and treated well – especially during Gay Pride.”
Later after an ambulance arrived the paramedics treated the couple at the scene and also told them they’d be OK and to just go home, put ice on their faces, or they could pay $800 and go to the hospital.
The paramedics, though, were wrong.
Later the couple decided to go to the hospital on their own, where it was discovered Chalarca had a broken tear duct and was told to try not to cry or get emotional. He may need surgery.
In video footage of the incident, four young men — one wearing a Florida International University T-shirt — are seen walking up to a bathroom area on Ocean Drive and Sixth Street at about 7:40 p.m. Sunday. Two other men walk out, and are immediately attacked by the four. One of the attackers shouts a Spanish slur used to refer to LGBT men before he and the other attackers begin repeatedly punching the two men.
When the two victims, who sustained multiple injuries to their faces, began to run away, the attackers chased them, Miami Beach police said.
One of the victims told NBC 6 News that he and his partner were holding hands when they were attacked.
“For me, the way we were dressed and everything and we were together, for me it was like, yes, it was a hate crime,” he said.
Police are asking for help to identify the men involved in the attack. Three are described as Hispanic white males, each about 5 foot 8, and between the ages of 19 and 24. Anyone with information should call Miami-Dade Crime Stoppers at 305-471-TIPS.
A bystander, 29-year-old Helmut Muller, tried to intervene and stop the attack but the attackers turned on him knocking him out cold. Muller woke up in a pool of his own blood and eventually spent six hours at the hospital getting staples in his head to stop the bleeding.
The attackers now face felony battery charges. As mentioned above, if anyone has any info that could lead to the arrest of the men, please call Miami-Dade Crime Stoppers at 305-471-TIPS.
You can see surveillance footage of the attack in the two local news reports below.
Miami Beach Gay Pride has announced woofy out Olympian Gus Kenworthy will serve as Grand Marshal for the event on April 10.
According to a press release from the pride committee, the Olympic silver medalist is “thrilled to lead the parade at Miami Beach Gay Pride.”
NBC6 weekend anchor Roxanne Vargas will join Kenworthy for the parade as this year’s ally grand marshal.
For its 10-year anniversary, Miami Beach Gay Pride 2018 will feature a week’s worth of events, April 2-8, which include highlights such as Pride Lights the Night, a tribute to the PULSE nightclub victims; the Miss Pride drag pageant; a Friday night VIP Gala; Saturday beach party and festival; and Sunday parade and festival.
Disco legend Thelma Houston (“Don’t Leave Me This Way”) will perform at 8PM on the pride mainstage.